§ MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the seven merchants of Loughrea who were taken out of their beds on the morning of the 14th instant, on a charge of conspiracy under the ordinary law, are to be prosecuted under the ordinary law or before a Court constituted under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act; whether the conspiracy of which they are accused is of recent date; and, if not, what is the time this alleged conspiracy existed; and, whether any other and what, if any, prosecutions under the ordinary law were instituted in connection with this alleged conspiracy, and what was the result of these prosecutions?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The District Inspector of Constabulary reports that four only of the defendants referred to belonged to Loughrea. The trial will be under the ordinary law at Assizes. The conspiracy has been going on since 1879, the object being to compel a man to surrender an evicted farm which he had taken. True bills for larceny of hay from the farm in question were found at last Sligo Winter Assizes against four of the persons now referred to, and eight others; but, owing to the absence of the principal witness, the trial was postponed to the Galway Spring Assizes, and then further postponed to the Summer Assizes.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I should like to ask the Solicitor General for Ireland, under what circumstances the police in Ireland handcuffed these men, who were untried prisoners?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
With reference to that matter 799 of fact, I must ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to put a Question on the Paper.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
I wish to ask, with reference to this case of conspiracy arising in 1879, whether these merchants were arrested in their beds at 3 o'clock in the morning upon the assumption that they were about to leave their businesses and their families and run away from the charge?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the hon. Member rather misapprehended what he had said. He did not say that the conspiracy took place in 1879. What he said was that the conspiracy began in 1879, and continued down to the present day. He presumed the police found it necessary to arrest these men at the hour named, because they anticipated that they might have escaped if they had not been taken in that way.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
asked, would the right hon. Gentleman give a further assurance, in addition to the assurance he gave the other day, that the case of untried prisoners would receive the immediate attention of the Irish Government?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that the question of the accommodation for untried prisoners was being looked into, he believed, in England; and he was making in Ireland an inquiry parallel to that which was being conducted in this country.